The title card for "The Haunting in Connecticut" tells us it's "based on a true story." But watching the movie, you get the feeling that opener should have read, "Based on other haunted house movies like 'Poltergeist.' "
There's not much new here in the way of thrills, chills and GOTCHA! scary moments, but "The Haunting in Connecticut" is a reasonably effective effort, thanks to a fine cast led by the always-welcome Virginia Madsen, and some nice touches by director Peter Cornwell.
Based loosely on the story of a supposedly haunted house in Connecticut in the mid-1980s, the story picks up with devoted mother Sara (Madsen) and her recovering alcoholic husband Peter (Martin Donovan) renting a ramshackle house that's near the hospital where their oldest son Matt (Kyle Gallner) is receiving intense (and intensely painful) treatments for cancer.
Matt is the first to see things. Very bad things. Corpses being mutilated. Seances that go horribly wrong. A young boy with ecotoplasm spewing from his mouth. Elias Koteas has the Max von Sydow role as the priest who knows all too well about the darkness that lurks around us. Like Matt, the reverend is suffering from cancer. He explains to the boy that most people live in the waking world and then quickly pass to the other side----but those who are seriously sick are walking in the valley of the shadow of death, and thus they can see restless and haunted spirits that haven't properly been put to rest.
As is almost always the case with spooky-house movies, everyone sticks around far too long. At one point the priest says to the Mom, "Are the children upstairs?", when he should be asking, "Are the children on their way to Florida yet?"
Also, please take note that if you ever find yourself in a scary movie, do not look under the bed, do not play hide-and-seek, and do not stand in front of a medicine cabinet, because when you close that little mirrored door, there WILL be a scary monster-creature standing behind you, and the orchestra will pound that moment home with a frightening musical "sting."
This is a B-movie through and through, and I don't believe for a second that any real family in Connecticut went through anything faintly resembling the fiery, violent, gruesome madness that ensues here. But I must admit I was jolted out of my seat on a couple of occasions, and I appreciated the efforts of the cast, writers and director to put a stylish spin on a familiar tale.